Have you heard of boba? Imagine chewing on a flavorless gummy. Remember the gelatinous balls in tapioca pudding? Bingo. That’s boba. It’s squishy and chewy and delightful—a gluten-free starch. As of late, it’s a popular “topping” in tea.
This “bubble tea” trend is sweeping the nation, and it’s infiltrated our area. Campus features most of the bubble tea places. However, one boba place has landed in between campus and downtown at 608 E. University Ave. Bearology is an off shoot of Boba Bear. This is an LA-based hot spots that feature hookah and teas. Bearology is basically the family-friendly sister of Boba Bear. They are sprinkled mostly in California.
We visited this slick spot at 608 E. University Avenue. There is parking in the back of this high-rise complex. Right off the bat you see University Avenue’s inviting outdoor seating. It’s minimally outfitted in high-gloss whites and metal. There are some couches and tons of tables.
The menu features cold-pressed juices like the Fields of Green ($8.50), housemade coffee like the Americano ($4.50), classic teas like the Strawberry Milk Tea ($5.50) and signature drinks like the Black Sesame Smoothie ($6.50). There’s also a small selection of pastries. To be honest, I would stick to the drinks. The case of baked goods looked like an afterthought.
The best part—everything cold comes in a cute glass jar. It looks like a narrow mason jar. However, the lid has a large hole in the top. The hole holds a jumbo straw in the color of your choosing. (Both are machine washable.) This is a key tool for sucking up the balls of boba! I never thought I’d say that. It’s bizarre, I know! Think of it as an experience. The jars are yours to keep. However, if you bring back them back, you get 10 percent off your order. The drinks are beautifully displayed in the glass jars. They are like stained glass works of art. The boba, mixed with the straws and the sugar, minus any caffeine—a kids dream. I would make sure, however, they were very capable of using a straw really well. I would hate for a little one to get caught off guard when a boba flies into their throat.
We stepped up to the plate to order. I had to tell the only staff member that we were first timers. (We were the only patrons there at 10 a.m. on Saturday. They just opened at this time. The timing and empty tables led me to believe this type of treat is best consumed a bit later in the day?) At first, ordering was a bit confusing. The bubble server took the time to show us how to order. It’s all done through an iPad. First, you pick your base beverage. The system then takes you through the appropriate follow-up questions. Dairy options, sweetness, temperature and toppings are among the follow-up options. For example, I ordered the Strawberry Green Tea ($5.50). Then I selected my sweetness adjustments. I selected the normal sugar option, but you could add sugar, reduce sugar or go sugar free. Then I selected my free toppings. (An option for extra toppings for an additional price will also pop up.) I selected boba as my topping. I had the option of adding aloe vera (a healing gel from plants), chia seeds (a superseed from a variety of the mint plant) or lychee jelly (an Asian fruit). Then I selected my ice. Choose from no ice, less ice, regular ice or extra ice.
The final result included muddled strawberries floating on top of a layer of green tea with spheres of boba settled at the bottom. It was the strangest mix of earthy, fruity, herbaceous and sweet. Add the out-of-this world texture of boba and you have a uniquely you beverage.
My husband ordered the Strawberry Banana Smoothie ($6.50). This is just as it sounds, blended bananas, strawberries, dairy and ice. Then he selected dairy options. Choose from almond milk, half & half, non-dairy creamer and whole milk.
Just because it was Saturday morning, we threw in some caffeine. My husband got two espresso shots ($2.50). I got an Americano ($4.50). All made in house. Then we selected temperatures. Choose from cold or hot. You can also add almond, caramel, chocolate chip, cinnamon, hazelnut, mocha, white chocolate chip and vanilla bean.
Our total was $20.
There’s also hot chocolate, hot tea, Shimmering Pink Lemonade Tea and 24K Golden Tea ($7) specially marketed right now. The pink lemonade is made with butterfly-pea extract and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Even though an iPad is the primary checker, you aren’t prompted to tip. There’s only an unassuming tip jar on the counter. That’s it.
There’s WiFi and a stack of board games. Jenga kept my little one occupied while my husband and I enjoyed our drinks.
If you need to use the facilities, there are hip communal bathrooms in the high-rise main space. The hours are simple. Every. Day. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Take a date, take your kiddos or fly solo. Bearology is a sweet spot to enjoy something uniquely you.
Emily Harrington is a Chambana townie. She left her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job in communications so that she could be a 24/7 mom to two busy boys. Still interested in writing, Emily uses some of naptime to practice her passion and keep her mind right. Emily is a happy wife with a happy life because she fell for a fellow townie. Emily usually finds herself engulfed in balls, blue and belly laughs.